tv MSNBC Live With Alex Witt MSNBC August 26, 2017 10:00am-11:00am PDT
coast, this in the wake of hurricane harvey's devastating landfall. >> the winds at times have been gusting to 110 miles an hour. >> all eyes are on the skies to see just how much water falls here. >> oh, my goodness. oh, my goodness. we just got word it's a category 4 hurricane. i hope and pray that people evacuated because if they did not, they are going to go through the worst night of their life. >> a hurricane here is imminent. >> hurricane-force winds are going to penetrate well inland. >> this storm could cut a new path along the texas coast. >> right now we're getting hammered with a thunderstorm. >> we are really getting battered with this wind right now. >> and while this storm becomes the president's first challenge from a natural disaster, he faces backlash from a series of actions he took late friday. meanwhile, we are awaiting a news conference from the texas governor. we will bring that to you live. a good day to all of you, i'm alex witt here in new york. it is 1:00 here in the east,
10:00 a.m. out west but it is high noon in texas and here's what's happening right now there. many areas are bracing for widespread flooding as a weekend hurricane harvey dumps heavy rainfall, already totaling more than 20 inches in some places. the national hurricane center is warning that catastrophic flooding could sweep many areas by wednesday. there are some strong winds still, now at 75 miles an hour. they are leaving a trail of devastation. here we're taking a look at some of the damage visible so far. you're looking at rockport, texas, coming up shortly. many buildings have been completely destroyed there. also the national guard is out on the streets in victoria. this is some of the damage they found there. meanwhile, fema is gearing up for a search and rescue effort. we are awaiting, again, for the texas governor to begin a press conference any moment. here's what he said about the response in an interview with fox news a bit earlier today. >> we are actively engaged today as we speak in deploying these troops to go in and begin the
process of searching for those who may be trapped and try to rescue them. that will be an ongoing process in the days to come. >> all right. let's go now to nbc's gadi schwartz who's in a flooded neighborhood in hitchcock, texas. gadi, to you. what's the latest? >> reporter: i want to show you this road right here. the neighbors say that this road sometimes floods. they know the drill. they know to park their cars where the ground is still dry but they are not yoogd used to three or four days of rain. some of these areas will see 30 to 40 inches of rain so it's pretty concerning for people over here, like this house right here. this house sits on the ground. houses across the street are up about a foot. there's one house over here up about 6 feet. but you can see the storm did a little damage over here. howdy. was that from last night? that was from last night? >> from last night. >> wow. do you guys have sandbags up? >> no. >> no sandbags yet?
>> no. >> reporter: so a lot of people around here, they did not evacuate because this is not an area that's under mandatory evacuation, but some of them are putting up sandbags. this house over here has some sandbags, but this is an area, again, that has seen flooding before. again, they know the drill, they know to park their cars and basically wade over to their cars if they want to get out and go to work. but the big concern out here is that they have never seen four days of consistent tropical storm, hurricane-style rain. so a lot of people here nervous, while others are saying that they're not nervous. they think that they can wait out this storm. if it gets too high, if the water levels get too high, then they will evacuate this area. alex, back to you. >> all right, thank you so much from hitchcock, texas. now, in the county of victoria, officials are predicting 2 to 3 feet of rainfall. a storm surge warning remains in effect. tropical storm winds are expected to batter that area.
kerry sanders is there. kerry, what are you seeing? >> reporter: to really get an understanding of the 16 inches that have already fallen and the possibility of several feet, come along here. this is normally a stream. as you look down here, you can see the water that is rushing here. the stream has turned into a river. this is flowing into the guadalupe river here. the guadalupe, if the prediction is correct, will be 32 feet above flood stage. so we can already see what is going to come here if harvey does indeed sit over this area and continue to dump the rain as is predicted. so a lot of concern that people did find through this hurricane here inland, the winds gusting upwards of 110 miles an hour, but now the new problem, which is going to be the flood. that would be the bigger problem for this community. alex? >> you know, kerry, i know we're seeing pictures of devastation in terms of buildings or you saw
the top of gas stations and the like that were taken out. so talk about the concern for anyone who may be stuck somewhere and buried, because there appears to be evidence of that in rockport certainly. but how about where you are? >> reporter: not so much where we are. i did find a homeless man on the street. i dialed 911. this was several hours ago, to inform the police where he was, that he was outside riding the storm outside. they said at that time they were not going to deploy officers anywhere because the storm was hitting at its worst moments. it appears now that we have gone from the tremendous winds that were consistent and constant to what are now strong gusts. i do know that the police officers out and about if there are 911 calls. while the electricity is out, it looks like the cell phone towers are maintaining and so people are able to make calls. we would hope that anybody that might be in trouble may have a phone and able to dial 911 for help. the damage in victoria, while
there is some, especially the old growth trees, the oaks that are more than 100 years old, have come down and fallen on people's homes, in addition to the fact that we've seen some of the corrugated metal ripped off buildings as well as some of the gas stations, like the valero that has lost its overhang. but the truth is, the heavy damage that you often associate with a hurricane is not as dramatic, at least as we've seen here in victoria, because, remember, when harvey hit victoria, population of about 67,000, it was a category 1 storm, meaning that the winds were far less. it doesn't mean it's not dangerous, but it means that the potential for damage is certainly not as strong as when it's a category 3 or a category 4. the eye wall, as you know, had winds clocked up to 140, 145 miles an hour, alex. >> yeah. well, the big issue is flooding. you are appropriately standing and discussed what's going on in that river behind you.
i'm looking at some stats, kerry, that say four days from now harvey is forecasted to be only about 60 miles from its current location, indicating the extent to which it's just hovering. so when you look at this town, victoria, we know houston is just ripe for flooding and that's not good coming their way. how about victoria. does there appear to be areas for runoff and they can survive massive flooding or not so much? >> reporter: the ground is already saturated by the 16 inches that have fallen thus far. you know, for perspective, 16 inches of rain in -- i guess we're now at 16 hours of this -- this area gets 32 inches of rain a year so they got half their rain in a little bit more than half a day. so, no, there is going to be nowhere for this water to go. it's going to flow here. it's going to go down river. there's also the san antonio river. but at the end of the day, this much rain falling is going to --
it's going to cause problems. you know, they do the 100-year flood plane. this will be that one flood in 100 years that people know could happen. it's going to happen if indeed harvey does, as it appears to have done, park itself right over this area. >> all right, kerry sanders, thank you for that. we're going to stay in victoria. we're now with our colleague catie beck who is joining us for the first time. oh, my goodness, you're seeing something which is of heart breaking concern to so many people and that is pets there, catie, who seem either disoriented or lost or separated from their owners. beyond just that, what's it like where you are? >> reporter: well, the flooding here is really starting to accumulate. it's not every street in victoria, but where we are standing obviously you can see what was left behind of the storm so far. lots of debris in the road, lots of downed tree limbs. yes, we just saw a dog walk by.
fortunately, he does belong to the home here. the owner told me just a minute ago that they did stick it out through the storm, they are without power and they are concerned about the flooding that is still yet to come. but, yeah, obviously you can see this looks like a river here in front of this home. it normally doesn't. so these type of areas, these type of streets over the next couple of days, this rainfall is going to continue to collect and they're already submerged so you can imagine what kid of dangerous situations these streets will be in. obviously not passable at this point and obviously very isolating for a lot of homeowners who are sort of, as you can see in this situation, basically on an island. >> they're just waiting to see the extent to which those waters rise and whether they can get their property out of those homes and into trucks. any downed power lines that you've seen, catie? because with that kind of water and downed power lines, that's a disaster itself. >> it is. we actually have seen downed power lines. we've seen a lot of leaning
power lines with cables hanging down, which as you mentioned can be really dangerous with water. as you can see this whole area got sort of tossed. trash cans tossed over. you can see this power line hanging down here. most of this area does look like it was tossed. the trees down, the limbs down, the power out. there does appear to be a little bit more movement on the roads than earlier today when we first started making our trek from corpus christi to victoria. it was still sort of a ghost town on the highways. we are seeing people out and about more. as this flooding continues, that's going to be a serious problem. >> all right, can you just do us all a favor, can you just make sure those homeowners get that dog that was in the picture and bring that dog home. >> i'm going -- i am going to go -- yes, i know. i'm going to go find some pea nuts in our news van for that guy. he looks like he could use a snack. i'm a dog lover too, alex. >> we know we love you for good reason.
thank you so much. let's get to joe fryer who's in galveston, texas. he's been there all night long. you've been enduring just pummelling rain. things look a little brighter behind you. talk about what you're seeing right now. >> reporter: they're a little brighter than what we saw earlier this morning, but we're still getting a lot of rain and a lot of wind. you look behind me and you can see the angry gulf coming in here. it's really not the water from the gulf that they're terribly worried about. they have a sea wall that's doing a good job keeping that back but it is all the water from the sky concerning people here. already a lot of rain this morning. here's the scary thing, alex. a few moments ago you were talking about the very slow march of this hurricane up the coastline over the next few days. keep in mind that's about 200 miles from here where this thing is churning right now. it's not supposed to get to the galveston area until maybe about tuesday or so. so as bad as it is here, they're probably going to get even heavier amounts of rain on the tail end of this thing. if there's already flooding in place, that could create a catastrophic situation. people here have experienced
hurricanes before. hurricane ike took place nine years ago in 2008, so they understand hurricanes and respect them. at the same time, this one is very different. ike sort of came in and hit the galveston area pretty hard. there was some flooding. this one, the winds and storm surge weren't a big deal for galveston because it hit farther south of here. what they're dealing with now is all of this rain coming in and they know there are some flood-prone areas. if you walk around town, there are some markers up at some of the restaurants and businesses that show just how high the water got during hurricane ike. there are a lot of fears it's going to be even worse this time around, alex. >> can you let me know, i know you had gotten to higher ground. just quickly, people were driving along that sea wall area. are more people out as it's daybreak and rain seems to be letting up? does it look safe for them to be out looking at things? >> reporter: we have seen people out and about when it has been not raining quite as hard. this is kind of hard, but there are people out and about. when it was raining super hard,
i didn't see anyone on the road, everyone was staying in. we're staying at a hotel where we've been told a lot of the staff was told do not come in today. we had power outages throughout the morning and more last night so that's been an issue. there are some areas downtown that are flooding a little bit more, which is where they expected the flooding to take place first here in galveston downtown. they're trying to keep people away from those areas. you don't want to have people driving their cars through floodwaters because we know what happens. people think it's not as shallow as it is an then they get stuck. but the second reason is for some of the big trucks that make it through, they create a wake and that pushes more water into some of these neighborhoods and that can create a problem. >> joe fryer, thank you very much from galveston. we appreciate that. let's go now to msnbc bill karins. all right, bill, so what's the latest on this path and is it really the flooding that is the big thing we're worried about? because the rain doesn't seem to be letting up. >> it's not going to either. same pictures tomorrow and into monday, tuesday, maybe even wednesday. this is what happens. this was the category 4 wind
gust that was reported. 132-mile-per-hour, 125, 110, rockport 108. now you know, you've seen some of those pictures, what a 108-mile-per-hour wind gust can do to structures and that's a low end category 3. still a hurricane but won't be for long. it is drifting to the north at only 2 miles an hour. now we start that painful process of seeing where this drifts to in the days ahead. we've had this feeder band over galveston and mostly just north of houston. this is just a tremendous amount of rain that's coming in. now it's building back. we had a little clear slot and watch that fill in with torrential rain coming to the north, new thunderstorms. then there's the center itself in between san antonio and victoria. the big question is who's going to get the heaviest rain. the forecast path from the hurricane center drifts it around here. this is the point on wednesday only 60 miles away from where it is right now and that's why we have this really tremendous amount of rain. i've been saying all along,
alex, we have a triangle between san antonio, corpus christi an houston. somewhere in that possibility we'll see the possibility of 3, 3.5 feet of rainfall. some of the guidance is shifting some of the heavier rainfall totals from victoria to san antonio. so you're not out of the woods yet. >> bill karins, thank you very much for the heads up on all of that. for all of you, we are keeping our eye on austin, texas. we're getting word that texas governor greg abbott has pushed back his news conference to about 1:30 p.m. and that's eastern time, so about 15 minutes or so from now. so we will take you there certainly when it gets under way. meantime, there's another big story today and it centers on the white house and the pardon of controversial arizona sheriff joe arpaio and the timing of the move is raising some eyebrows as well. we'll discuss that next.
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at 18 past the hour, we're following breaking news from texas as hurricane harvey continues to weaken. it is now a category 1. however, many southeastern counties are still being battered by high winds and storm surge now and what is to come. the storm is expected to stall for a few days with more than 20 inches of rainfall expected in many areas. there's also this new nasa animation. it shows how the scientists estimate the rainfall totals using a core observatory satellite with radar and 3-d capability. they found intense storms on the eastern side of harvey were dropping more than 3.2 inches of rain per hour and the storm tops have reached an altitude higher than ten miles. so let's go now to houston, which is being pummeled by heavy rains from harvey's outer bands. jacob rascon is joining us from there. what's it look like there, jacob? >> reporter: i'm on the road right now and to tell you the truth there aren't many people
out. we've been driving around looking at the bayous and the creeks. they run throughout the city. and they actually have a pretty good system of draining the water out. the problem is that they get sometimes 8, 9, 10, 12 inches at a time and so fast it's just too much and of course we expect that the 3 feet here, which is a big issue. so today was always going to be the lightest day of the storm. what we had that we didn't expect were tornados. we had at least one confirmed and a couple of others that were possible tornados. i just came from one of those areas, a neighborhood called santa plantation. there is a golf course in the middle there, a new development, and there was a confirmed tornado there that damaged at least 50 homes. some of them, you know, you had big gaping holes in the roof and so the damage is pretty severe in some of those homes, the house is very flooded.
we talked to some of those families and they described the whistle, the boom, the freight train sound that comes right before the tornado. it hit at 1:00, 2:00 in the morning so of course startled everybody. after it hit, all the neighbors came out on the street and looked and checked on each other and now they're cleaning up. as far as we can tell, nobody was injured in any of that, which is great news. more rain fell than expected, we should point that out. we initially yesterday were looking at two feet plus generally in the houston area, and then that was upgraded. and so they're worried. last year they got, i think, 15 inches or so, i don't remember, and flooded pretty bad. they're expecting bad flooding, but it's a sunday event and then monday, tuesday, wednesday hitting again. this is long term for them. it's not the initial impact, as we say, it's the flood and they're concerned. >> you can about imagine.
real quickly we are looking at some drone footage and you can see things look certainly dramp, but with the exception of maybe sidewalk borders where puddles of water have pooled, it doesn't look to be too bad yet but houston doesn't have a lot of leeway for flood damage. it's so darn flat there. >> reporter: it is. it's really flat. interestingly, they actually can handle a lot of rain, more rain than, say, i used to live in los angeles. they get 2, 3 inches and it's catastrophic. houston can handle 5, 6, maybe a couple more inches at the same time which rarely big cities will get. they have a decent system. it's just that it's been raining more and they're so densely populated. the fastest growing city in the country for a few years in a row on some measurements. and so so many people here, more than 6 million, and just so much
concrete that lays over what used to be prairie lands, wetlands. they call it the bayou city for a region. >> thank you, jacob rascon. for all of you, we're awaiting a news conference from the texas governor. we'll bring that to you as soon as it happens. in just a few minutes we'll get a better idea of how the federal government will help the people in texas. we'll speak with the current fema director. your brain is an amazing thing. but as you get older, it naturally begins to change,
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at 26 past the hour, everyone, we're giving you some new pictures from inside rockport, texas. that is the town being called the ground zero of hurricane harvey. as you take a look at this video, it shows several buildings. those collapsed directly into the water. and in this next piece we are seeing apartment buildings that were severely damaged. there are about 10,000 people who live in rockport. the video is also showing the winds gusting at 110 miles an hour. the mayor of rockport says there have been no confirmed deaths in
his city, but he is cautioning officials have not yet been able to do any home checks going door to door to see which residents still need some help. we're also waiting a news conference from the texas governor. we'll bring that to you as soon as it happens. it's scheduled at the bottom of the hour. help for the residents of texas. what will the federal governor do? i'll speak with william "brock" long in just a moment. (boy) sorry. (dad) don't worry about it. (mom) honey, honey, honey, honey! (vo) at our house, we need things that are built to last. that's why we got a subaru. (avo) love. it's what makes a subaru, a subaru. get 0% apr financing for 63 months on all new 2017 legacys. ends august 31st.
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welcome back, everyone. i'm alex witt here at msnbc world headquarters in new york at precisely the half hour. here's what we're monitoring for you. any moment now texas governor greg abbott is expected to hold a press conference on the destruction brought by hurricane harvey so far and all of the relief efforts set into motion. we'll bring that to you live when it gets under way.
this hurricane is now a category 1 storm, but the worst could still be ahead as the threat of devastating flooding becomes all the more likely. some new reports say that the storm's slow-moving speed means the areas in its path could see historic levels of rainfall and flooding. here's a look at some of the wreckage harvey has already left behind in the city of rockport. the mayor there says the devastation in that city is widespread. well, houston is about 40 miles inland from the coast and we are seeing evidence of pretty significant damage in that area. in fact we are hearing the word "catastrophic" being used to describe widespread devastation. joining me now, fema administrator william "brock" long. thank you, sir, for being here. i know it's an awfully busy time for you. can you give us an idea of the extent of damage that you're hearing about when you're hearing the word "devastation," where would you apply that adjective to the areas on the ground? >> quite honestly this event is just beginning. you know, we're seeing some initial damages come in from the
initial brunt of the storm making landfall as a category 4 last night due to storm surge, but honestly a lot of the damage is yet to come because what we're looking at is torrential inland rains. rainfall is going to be tremendous inland. the river systems are going to have a hard time processing all that water. so a lot of damage is coming, unfortunately. this is going to be an unprecedented long and frustrating event for the state of texas. >> and when you talk about the flooding, certainly the obvious, sir, when you obviously see that there's lots of rain in a path but it also means the cessation of other utilities, you worry about downed wires, you worry about unfiltered water and dirty water, contaminated water for residents. talk about all the different angles of things that you've really got to keep an eye on so residents don't miss them as they think the sky is sunny and maybe things will get back to normal real quick. >> obviously there's a lot of
uncertainty in this forecast but the storm is basically stalling out over the state of texas, which means rain bands will continue to come in periodically for multiple days. what we want citizens to know is, one, stay safe, shelter in place. do not play in the flooded waters, drive in the floodwaters, it's very dangerous. you know, if you look behind me, the national response coordination center that fema operates ensures a unified message. we realize that we're going to be facing not only environmental issues, we're going to be facing catastrophic housing issues, flood plane insurance issues. there's a multitude of thingspps well, such as search and rescue. >> absolutely. with regard to preparation beforehand, even things that seem very simple but can be complicated based on the devastation of the storm, things like providing meals for people. how well prepared do you think fema was able to be with the time frame they had in advance
of harvey? >> we've been in the state for well over 48 hours in support of our state and local partners. and what our job is, is to fulfill the gaps that the state may have. right now, for example, they have asked us to backfill their supply of life-sustaining commodities such as bottles of water. we have meals ready to eat, ready to go. as the storm starts to dissipate in some areas and mother nature allows us to start moving in, we will continue to support governor abbott and his efforts and the local efforts to administer support to the citizens of texas. >> there are those that would suggest things from the federal government, being the white house, were not handled properly during katrina because there was not a green light given to just give everything that fema needed right off the bat and figure out details of paying for it and logistics later. what's the response you've gotten from the trump administration as to what kind of a green light do you have
dealing with harvey? >> excellent communication. you know, the president expedited governor abbott's major disaster declaration within hours yesterday. the bottom line is, is that i've communicated with the president directly less than two hours ago. we've been speaking every day and constant communication between us and the white house and our partners within the department of homeland security and the national response framework. so we've come a long way since katrina. we're leaning forward, ready to support. >> with regard to the military, are you working part and parcel with the military? has national guard within activated in any regard? >> absolutely. so the national guard is under the governor's control. we cannot actually backfill the national guard with federal d.o.d. defense forces and they are here with us in the room behind me as well as on the ground at the regional operations center that we have in region six in texas. >> i know you've got a lot of
experience in this area and you think this is going to last a while. can you give us any educated guesstimate, we're not going to hold you to it, but are you looking at weeks, are you looking at months? what do you think, brock? >> the recovery from this disaster is going to be years. now, as far as the hazards go, you're looking at weeks. once the rainfall stops, the rivers have to process the water. in some cases, it's going to rain in areas where the water can't filter out so you're going to have stagnant water in some certain areas. the one concern that i have initially is people being isolated in their homes, you know, and cooped up for multiple days and being able to get to the resources that you have. so we have partnerships with the private sector, trying to understand pharmaceutical -- retail stores or grocery stores, whether they're shut down or remaining open so we know how to better help the state tailor their assistance to the citizens. >> i'm looking at three particular storms of late that
were pretty devastating for texas. tropical storm allison, hurricane rita and hurricane ike. hurricane ike cost the state $22 billion worth of damage. do you think harvey may eclipse that? >> this is going to be a very expensive and costly frustrating event. you know, i've been doing this nearly two years and i've never seen a hurricane impact a community like this one. not only did you have a category 4, a very rare category 4 making landfall with the devastating storm surge, but now that's going to be coupled with multiple days of torrential rains. you know, this is -- this is a hurricane that's going to be talked about by itself. it's going to be hard to compare this one to any other. >> fema administrator william "brock" long on a very busy day. thank you for your time here on msnbc as we cover hurricane harvey. appreciate it. >> thank you. a controversial pardon is just one of the surprise moves made by president trump just as this major hurricane was about to hit the u.s. what may have prompted all of the decisions, coming up. comfortable you are in it.
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any minute now we are expecting a briefing on hurricane harvey from texas governor greg abbott. it's been pushed back to 1:45. we'll see if he makes it on time to that one. he's trying to assemble all the information he needs to give us the very latest statistics there, but we'll take you there when it gets under way. meantime what you're looking at is one of the hardest-hit regions, rockport, texas, where hurricane harvey made landfall as a category 4 storm. it had devastating 130-mile-an-hour winds. the high school in rockport is among the many structures that have been damaged in what is being called ground zero for this hurricane. president trump has been tweeting about the storm today, including this response. republican senator chuck grassley saying we have fantastic people on the ground, got there long before harvey. so far so good. joining me now, noelle nikpour, peter emerson and josh dossey.
with a welcome to all three of you, i'll begin with you, josh. white house press secretary sarah huckabee sanders said that the president plans to visit texas early next week as pot of his response to hurricane harvey. is it customary for a president to plan a trip to a disaster site ahead of the impact of a storm? >> there are delicate politics involved. you come too early, people say you're plit sizing it. you come too late it looks like you're not responding. i think they're trying to play this by ear. they don't know how much of a deluge they'll get, how many deaths there will be, how many towns with him be destroyed. so my sense is they're predicting that a trip is likely to come based on the ferocity of the storm, but they're not committing to anything in particular because they want to see how bad the fallout is the next couple of days. >> that makes sense actually, trying to see where things all go down and then figure where they're going to head to and when. peter, i want to talk to you about the other big headline,
the fallout from the president's pardon of sheriff joe arpaio. what are you reading about this? >> a couple of things. first, it's very clear now that america first means in trump's country whites only. second, the pardon of the convicted sheriff is really trump giving the finger to the constitution, to the rule of law, and to our whole system of justice. it's really quite extraordinary. but i think it's very important to recognize that this is not the first pardon he will be giving. this is trump practicing what he's always said is important in order to get things right, and he's got a lot of pardons he's going to have to be considering or he's already promised with the upcoming indictments, convictions and trials. >> all right. let's talk about the timing here, noelle, because the "arizona republic" editorial board says donald trump just resurrected joe arpaio from
irrelevance. senator john mccain is among a group of republicans criticizing this pardon. what is your reaction to the timing of this as republicans are trying to distance themselves from the president's response to charlottesville two weeks ago? >> horrible timing, horrible optics. but i don't really think that donald trump listens to anyone but himself. some people think that's good, some people cannot stand that. but i -- you know, i'm not surprised that this happened and i don't think anyone else is because in that speech, he alluded to the fact that the sheriff would be enjoying a nice christmas, i think, with his family. i don't know the exact wording. but he alluded to the fact that the guy has nothing to worry about, which kind of told everybody, told the press, told the american public that he is probably going to get a pardon. so, you know, but the timing of it is very strange, given what all has been happening all over the country and the protests. and, you know, also when we
really need to be focusing on other issues. i thought it was very interesting with the timing, and i agree. >> josh, in terms of timing, this all came out within minutes of sebastian gorka -- >> right. >> -- being booted or resigning. nobody said for sure. sebastian gorka himself said that he resigned but haven't gotten that backup from the white house. talk about that. >> last night was a pretty dizzying of news. first you had the transgender ban in the military issued, the seb gorka's firing. my sources say more he was ousted than he resigned. and you have the pardon of joe arpaio. it was a friday night news dump of epic proportions just as a hurricane was barreling down. a lot of this wasn't schaubihoc. people have know since john kelly came in seb gorka would depart the white house. he didn't really have a clear role and frustrated kelly when he went on tv and criticized secretary of state rex tillerson. the pardon, president trump said that was coming for several
weeks to his closest advisers. he appreciated arpaio being loyal to him and appreciated that his base would probably like it and the transgender ban had to happen, the guidelines, because he had tweeted it several weeks ago without any policy in place. so some of this was seemingly shocking, but i think it was actually the cards were in place before and the white house kind of did a coordinated strategy with the hurricane coming down to get a lot of these uncomfortable, polarizing decisions out of their hair, so to speak. >> peter, josh mentioning the transgender ban there in the military. i'm curious, wouldn't something like that be preceded by the president either making an address to the military or making a pronounced statement about this? it's one thing to put it out on twitter, but you'd think when you're making a major shift in military policy, there would be a more formal addressing of it. >> well, that's the most upsetting aspect of this friday night massacre, and let's call it what it really is, it's a massacre. and the transgender ban is the most upsetting part of what he did, to me.
it's just disavowing the basic rights of millions and millions of americans. yes, as you say, normally a president would seek consultation, gather people in a room, show that he's got some support. but we're not dealing any longer with tradition or with history. we're dealing with a new social media outlet, twitter, and a president who just does, as noelle pointed out, whatever he wants to. it doesn't matter what the rule of law, the constitution, bill of rights, what anyone says. donald trump will do what he wants to do. >> noelle, you've heard it, john mccain, i mean he is a -- he's a warrior, he's a hero, he served so much time in the military and that's what he's so well known for and respected about. he's criticized this move to ban transgender people from the military. >> right. >> how worrisome is it for the republican party overall, who really needs way more than just the president's base to win? >> this is going to be -- you know, first of all, now we all know we can't take a two-hour break from the news or all hell
breaks loose. but the other thing on the transgender ban and what this is going to do, this is going to have lasting effects on the republican party. we already had trouble with messaging to try to be more inclusive and, you know, we even had peter thiel come to our rnc convention. it was a big deal, i was very excited about it. this kind of takes the brand backwards. but this isn't finished yet. actually mattis has six months before he implements this. i actually look for there to be a backlash. who knows, there could be a change to this policy, because this is very distracting. it's not uniting for the military, it's not good for the republican party brand. and i -- you know, legally, i think some of these transgender military officials may have -- may have grounds for suits. i also think, you know, think about their health care benefits as a military personnel, as someone that may be a
transgender veteran, so this has got a lot of things that i'm not sure that have been fully thought out. i think that when he announced this on twitter, it took some of the generals by surprise as well. >> yeah. can i just ask all three of you to give me a quick button up how damaging you think this may be when you do this friday night news dump as it's been called when you've got a record-breaking hurricane approaching the coast of the united states. i mean is there something of a disjointed focus there, like you should have been talking more about what's happening anywhere from galveston to corpus christi? what do you think? josh, you can go first. >> i think the white house was banking on getting this out and people soon focusing on the hurricane. we've seen wall-to-wall coverage on the hurricane, deservedly so. it's the most important story right now, it's affecting lives of millions of people. i think the president and his team knew these were polarizing decisions. if we get these out on friday night altogether, then by saturday or sunday the focus may have moved on. i still think you'll see some residual effects, but a lot may
be washed away, so to speak, by the hurricane. >> peter? >> actually it's not unusual for white houses and presidents to either turn to foreign policy or to hurricanes to cover up messaging. but in this case if you cared about human beings, you would have stayed focused on the hurricane and the people in texas. but at the end of the day, donald trump will tweet himself out of this controversy and into another one very soon. >> noel. >> when you pass things in the white house, especially this administration, but i've seen this before, a lot of times if you have things that are going to be maybe unfavorably towards everybody, you're going to do it when maybe there's a crisis coming. >> all right, noel, nick, peter, and josh, thanks so much. appreciate that. and for all of you, we still a await that briefing from texas governor greg abbott on hurricane harvey. we're going to bring it to you as soon as it gets under way. short break here on msnbc live. and at our factory in boston,
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at 53 past the hour, we're waiting to hear from texas governor greg abbott who will have the latest information on hurricane harvey about just how hard his state has been hit by this massive storm but we're also getting new information. i'm going get right to you, big, msnbc meteorologist. what are we hearing now. >> hurricane center says the winds are down to 70 miles per hour, only down from 75, no longer seeing it as a hurricane. it's a tropical storm. didn't make much of a difference because we weren't seeing much wind damage anyway. we could get isolated gusts, downed trees but nothing like we saw last night. we don't think this is going to regenerate either. this will just stay as a tropical storm and maybe even a tropical depression, rain crazy. some of the pictures we have from the rockp ort area. we had a category four make landfall and it was in the rockport area. search and rescue crews are
going through the rubble. we had apartment buildings that had walls collapse and people stranded in there and it wasn't until about two hours ago that conditions got good enough so the rescue crews could get in there and try to get people safe. the power's out there. only a little bit of time, five, six hours before sunset so they're working feverishly right now to get and search through rubble like that where you see that picture right there in the coastal areas. >> the man who took this picture, 35 years storm chaser, he said this is one of the top ten worst storms he's ever seen but he described an elderly man crawling out from under debris. >> they put their lives in danger going in there and he had a wall that collapsed right next to him. we were scared for him. the wall collapsed and his feed went out. they survived but now they're there on the ground, and they have a lot of supplies and everything else. and then they start driving around before the first responders even do and they're telling people where to go and try coordinate those first
responders on who to rescue. >> they're kind of a beacon. >> they're the first people on the ground to help people. i want to take people through the threats of what we're going deal with the next four to five days. we're watching this really heavy band coming up through the galveston/houston area. the rainfall gauges have been adding up in a hurry and that's where we're seeing some of the worst of the conditions. this is the forecast path over five days, this loop deloop here over southeast texas. potential for three and a half feet of rain, historic flooding in the days ahead. for all of you, that's going to do it for me this hour. i'm alex whit. thomas roberts picks it up in a few minutes as we await a news conference from the texas governor on now tropical storm harvey. we'll bring that briefing to you as it happens. ♪ sailin' away on the crest of a wave, it's like magic ♪
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news art harvey just downgraded to a tropical storm. winds as high as 70 miles per hour so at this hour, it is pounding the central and southeast part of texas with heavy rain and really high winds so some areas may get up to three and a half feet of rain, more than what some cities in the region get in an entire year of rainfall so this storm is expected to stall now over the area for the next few days. over 300,000 people currently without power and any minute now we do expect the governor, greg abbott, to brief the press on the current and future impacts from this storm. this will be his first major briefing of the day but joining me now with the very latest on the path of the storm and the tracking of harvey, msnbc meteorologist shana mendiola. what does the downgrade mean? good news or bad news? shana, can you hear me? all right, so we're going to get to shana in just a second but the big news right now is the